No harassment if woman wears 'sexually provocative' dress: Kerala court
Sexual harassment charge will not stand if the woman is wearing a 'sexually provocative' dress, a Kerala court observed on Wednesday. The controversial remarks were made during an anticipatory bail hearing in a sexual harassment case against a writer and social activist. Kozhikode court observed that IPC 354A (sexual harassment) would "prima facie not be attracted when woman was wearing a sexually provocative dress."
The court was hearing a bail plea filed by Civic Chandran, who had furnished photographs of the woman along with the plea. In the order released on Wednesday, the court observed, "It would reveal that the de facto complainant is herself exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one. So, Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused."
74-year-old Chandran was granted bail in the second sexual harassment case on August 12. Earlier, he received anticipatory bail in another sexual harassment case on August 2. According to Live Law, the Kozhikode Sessions Court also refused to believe how an aged physically disabled man could "forcefully put the de-facto complainant on his lap and press her breasts."
Additionally, the order said that based on Section 354, there must be an intention to outrage a woman's modesty, i.e. there must be physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. "There must be a demand or request for sexual favors. There must be a sexually coloured remarks," the bench said. It also pointed to the delay in filing an FIR.
While the prosecution alleged that Chandran made sexual advances on the complainant (a young female writer) at Nandi beach in February 2020, Chandran's team said that it is a false case. "It has been fabricated by his enemies to seek vengeance," Chandran's advocates said. They also contend that the case was registered two years after the incident and the delay must be explained.
The court's remarks triggered a flurry of reactions on Twitter. "This is disgusting, moral policing by courts should stop," one user said. Another user said, "Saree...burqa, Punjabi suit, frock of 3-year-old, jeans, and what not. Women's mere existence is only provocative, no?" "Nothing changes...you have to dress right, speak right...or you are to be blamed for harassment," another user said.